Food Access and Affordability Pilot
Building Healthy Communities
April 2, 2019
In New York City, low-income communities of color often overlap with the most extreme conditions of food insecurity and diet-related poor health.
At the same time, residents of low-income communities face barriers to food delivery services that could improve healthy food access and affordability, such as FreshDirect, AmazonFresh, Peapod, and Instacart. Residents may be unable to afford delivery minimums, have work hours that are incompatible with standard delivery times, or live in buildings that do not have doormen or secure areas in which to receive deliveries. Despite these barriers, the food industry is starting to recognize the potential of tapping into the low-income market through innovations. In 2019, NYHealth awarded the Fund for Public Housing a grant in support of a food delivery service pilot to improve healthy food access and options for residents of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) sites.
Under this grant, the Fund for Public Housing partnered with other organizations to design a pilot to enhance access to healthy and high-quality food for NYCHA residents. The pilot organized a purchasing collective at a NYCHA site that enabled residents to overcome delivery minimums by splitting the cost between members and allowing them to buy in bulk without significant payments. The pilot also explored technology and app partnerships to help make online delivery services easier for residents. Additionally, vacant ground floor space at the NYCHA building was used by residents to facilitate the receipt and distribution of food orders. Residents also participated in nutrition and cooking education classes. An evaluation study of the pilot provided recommendations for a sustainable and scalable program model.